Saturday, November 16, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 46

Out of all 50 states, only New Hampshire is known as having the First in the Nation Presidential Primary. While the Iowa Caucuses come first, New Hampshire is more like an actual election. Filing in that state has now closed, and this cycle, 50 people paid $1000 to compete for the right to govern the 50 states. Believe it or not, there have been cycles with more running in New Hampshire, but it seems like the number (at least of Democrats) of those who had been regarded as "serious" candidates is larger than it has ever been.

There will be 17 candidates on the GOP ballot, but besides Donald Trump, only Bill Weld or Joe Walsh will have a chance of even hitting one percent. (Perennial gadfly candidate Rocky de la Fuente has apparently filed to run in both party primary in the Granite State.) Not filing for New Hampshire on the Republican side was former South Carolina Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford. The most recent entrant on his party's side is also the first out of the race. With impeachment looming for the incumbent, Sanford determined that it would be hard to get his message about the national debt talked about much. Gee, really? Clearly, Sanford did not have the stomach for this. At least Welsh and Weld understand the stakes and the themes that must be presented against Trump.

Michael Bloomberg did not file on the Democrats' side, although he is expected to formally enter the race this week, and will focus his efforts beginning on the Super Tuesday states. Also not filing in New Hampshire was Hillary Clinton, although she is publicly saying "never say never" once again and saying many people want her to run for President. She may not realize that those many people are probably Republicans.

At one time, Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam was looked at by some as a "credible" Presidential candidate, for no other reason that the city he governs actually has more people than Mayor Pete's South Bend, Indiana. However, the Messam campaign appears to have been nothing more than a vanity exercise all along. Technically, he claims to still be a candidate, but has done virtually nothing towards those ends and did not file in New Hampshire.

However, a different African-American chief executive surprised many people this week by being a late entrant into the Democrat fray and filing in New Hampshire just in time. Months ago, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who now works at Bain Capital, once co-founded by his Gubernatorial predecessor Mitt Romney, said count him out. Now, he says count him in. Patrick is saying he can potentially unite the various wings of his party, although he admits his campaign is "like a Hail Mary from two stadiums away."

It is hard to see what Patrick can actually do in the field at this point, but all sorts of people from Massachusetts do like to run for President. Just days before, the state's Senator Elizabeth Warren was praising Patrick and saying that a spot would be there for him in her Cabinet. Now, they are opponents. What gets the most attention though, is that Patrick is close personally and politically to former President Barack Obama. Just this week, Obama issued a warning to his party not to go "too far left", and he is said to have done nothing to discourage Patrick from entering the race. What does that say about Joe Biden, the man who was Obama's Vice President for eight years and who frequently cites their connection? If nothing else, it appears that David Axlerod, Obama's Chicago based former political guru was pushing Chicago native Patrick into this race. All of this, along with the late Bloomberg entrance, speaks to a sense of "no confidence" among many Democrats, along with fear of Biden bombing as a candidate, or Warren or Bernie Sanders being too divisive to beat Trump, or questions about the experience and youth of the recently rising Pete Buttigieg.Ten Democrats will take the stage Wednesday night in Atlanta for the next in the series of debates.

Of course, the impending Impeachment of Donald Trump hangs over all of Campaign 2020 along with the very real possibility that any Democrat running for President who is also a U.S. Senator (five as of now), will be taken off the campaign trail for potentially several weeks, just as the first states prepare to vote. They will have to be Senator jurors after all. Many will ultimately rely on surrogates, while candidates who are not Senators might suddenly be able to make more local news in Iowa and New Hampshire to their benefit.

This week saw two days of testimony before the House Intelligence Committee related to the Ukraine scandal, with more testimony to come next week. As expected, allies of Trump think it went well for him and that the Democrats "have nothing" while those (in both parties) who are highly critical of Trump think that a lot of very damaging information came out. Count me in the latter camp, however, it is true that America may not exactly be riveted by all of this so far. It is kind of surreal to me as someone who remembers watching bits and pieces of the Clinton Impeachment Hearings, that we are this point again. Most expect the ultimate outcome will be the same, although clearly public opinion is more in favor of removing Trump than it ever was for Clinton and only seemed to be in the very late days about Richard Nixon in 1974.

As Members of the Committee and political partisans continue to fight it out at the hearings and in the media, it is in the best interest of Trump defenders to try to portray the hearings as "boring." That may somewhat be the case, although the facts seem pretty clear and dry. Trump did actions that would have been politically fatal for any other President at any other time. He benefits by being held to a lower ethical and legal standard than his predecessors. That might give him political cover to survive a trial, but make it harder for an election.

The behavior of Trump, especially on Twitter, continues to be a combustible wild card all these years later. People these days may not agree on much, but both sides, at least privately, will admit that his Tweet attacking the female Ambassador to Ukraine (and mentioning something like Somalia) he had fired during the very time she was testifying only did him harm.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

NFL Week 11 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS


Overall Results: 58-59 (39%)

1. Steelers (5-4) at Browns (3-6)

2. Falcons (2-7) at Panthers (5-4)
3. Cowboys (5-4) at Lions (3-5-1)
4. Jaguars (4-5) at Colts (5-4)
5. Bills (6-3) at Dolphins (2-7)
6. Texans (6-3) at Ravens (7-2)
7. Broncos (3-6) at Vikings (7-3)
8. Jets (2-7) at Redskins (1-8)
9. Saints (7-2) at Buccaneers (3-6)
10. Cardinals (3-6-1) at 49ers (8-1)
11. Bengals (0-9) at Raiders (5-4)
12. Patriots (8-1) at Eagles (5-4)
13. Bears (4-5) at Rams (5-4)

14. Chiefs (6-4) vs. Chargers (4-6) (in Mexico City, Mexico)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

NFL Week 10 Results

NOT PREDICTIONS

1. Chargers (4-5) at Raiders (4-4)  L 1

2. Ravens (6-2) at Bengals (0-8) L 2
3. Bills (6-2) at Browns (2-6) L 3
4. Lions (3-4-1) at Bears (3-5) W 1
5. Giants (2-7) at Jets (1-7) W 2
6. Chiefs (6-3) at Titans (4-5) L 4
7. Cardinals (3-5-1) at Buccaneers (2-6) W 3
8. Falcons (1-7) at Saints (7-1) W 4
9. Dolphins (1-7) at Colts (5-3) L 5
10. Rams (5-3) at Steelers (4-4) W 5
11. Panthers (5-3) at Packers (7-2) L 6
12. Vikings (6-3) at Cowboys (5-3) L 7

13. Seahawks (7-2) at 49ers (8-0) W 6

Week 10 Results: 6-7 (46%)
Overall Results: 58-89 (39%)

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 45

I knew I was going to forget something last week and I pretty much did.

In this case, it was a major event from exactly a week before (so two weeks now), that was worth commenting on. I will mention briefly now.

In a significant victory in the War on Terror, American Special Forces killed the leader of ISIS, Al-Baghdadi inside of Syria. This was a great achievement for the U.S. military in killing him and all the men and women of our intelligence community who worked to make it possible. Of course, Donald Trump, as President, authorized this dangerous raid and he deserves credit for that.

The reaction though the next morning in a Presidential press conference was garish and tacky and very likely fabricated to some extent in terms of the details of what happened. There was a hero dog though, so Trump had to praise a dog for the first time. I do not care a great deal that Congressional Democrats were not informed of this mission beforehand, but wonder why Trump was so quick to thank the Russians for helping, when they said they did not even know about it. All the politics aside, let us remember that ISIS remains a viable threat and dangers to the U.S. abound. As was the case when the  Obama Administration engineered the justified killing of Osama bin Laden, now would not be the time to let up our guard in anyway, as temping as that may be to any President wishing to announce "peace" or to opt out of the Middle East for strategic reasons.

This past Tuesday was the odd-year Election Day and received much attention, especially after the fact. While Republicans won a solid but not blowout victory to keep the Governorship of Mississippi and easily captured every down ballot statewide race in Kentucky, the Governorship of the Bluegrass State did switch parties in a very narrow vote. I called that one right, when few were willing to predict a win for Steve Beshear over Mark Bevin. Furthermore, results in just about every suburban area that voted saw a continued theme from 2018 in Democrats making major gains in previous GOP strongholds.

The Kentucky race received the most attention by far though. After all, Donald Trump held a huge Election Eve rally there and tremendously pumped up the Bevin campaign, spoke of what a great Governor he was, and how important it was nationally for him to win, or that would be a horrible message for Trump himself. Still though, Bevin lost, and while Trump may not be the main reason why, it was still a bad result for the White House. They tried to spin it by saying that Bevin was headed towards a landslide loss before Trump got involved. Maybe there is some truth to a larger Bevin loss had Trump sat it out, but the fact is that Bevin lost by being a Trump like politician in office and governing in a divisive way. Then, he failed to win a second term, in an overwhelmingly conservative place. Republicans should take heed. Bevin really had no choice but to try to nationalize the election, especially on an issue like impeachment, but yet it did not work. Many voters who had supported Trump and Bevin in their last elections, went Democrat this time. Now, though the results were close but still well in the thousands, Bevin is refusing to concede and citing "irregularities." This gambit is almost certain to fail but many are saying this is a deliberate trial run in case Trump loses in a year and will not concede.

Political attention will turn to another conservative state next Saturday as Louisiana will hold its Gubernatorial runoff between incumbent Democrat John Bel Edwards, a pretty conservative member of his party, and Republican second place advancer Eddie Rispone, whom Trump is campaigning for. Before the first round of voting, I said I expected a runoff and predicted it would be between these two men. I said overall the contest was "Likely Democrat." I will formally change that prediction now to "Leans Democrat" as the small amount of polling does show a competitive race.

I think the dynamics still favor Edwards getting the most votes next week, but it has gotten a bit closer than I might have expected and many on the right fully expect Rispone to take the Governorship back from the Democrats. One way or another, Trump will be part of the story by inserting himself into the campaign.

On Capitol Hill, things are still being put into place for public impeachment inquiry hearings which are to begin this week. Those who dislike Trump say the closed door hearings are producing terrible information about what happened. Those who like Trump continue to call the proceedings "Soviet style" and say nothing is coming out that is bad for Trump. Ultimately, it will be up to the public.

So, that leaves us with the Democrat primary field. To the best of my memory, nobody dropped out this week, but there was a late, and surprise semi-entrance. After previously deciding not to run, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, once a nominal Republican, has filed to run in early filing required Alabama as a Democrat contender. Bloomberg is easily richer than any other candidate, even Tom Steyer, but only slightly younger than Bernie Sanders in what is a pretty geriatric Presidential field all around. He is even older than Joe Biden.

For what it is worth, while I am far from an admirer of Bloomberg's overall politics, out of all the Democrats in the field (or those who have dropped out), he is someone I would at least consider voting for over Trump. He is clearly more liberal than me on social issues, but less likely (perhaps because he is rich enough) to not pander to left-wing special interests. Desperate times can call for desperate measures.

This means though that Bloomberg will somehow be nominated by the Democrats, and if that happens, it might be even more unlikely than Trump winning the 2016 GOP nomination. At this stage of the game, Bloomberg is not even going to compete in the first four states, but would start on Super Tuesday. This has never come close to succeeding in modern times. The only other major candidate who even attempted something similar was Bloomberg's Mayoral predecessor Rudy Giuliani in 2008.

To be clear, this move by Bloomberg is bold, risky, and an indictment of "no confidence" in all the Democrats running for President. Previously, Bloomberg indicated he would not want to do anything that might complicate things for Joe Biden. Now, he apparently thinks Biden's campaign has overwhelming weaknesses (despite leading in many polls from states that are not Iowa and New Hampshire.) Thus, the thinking is that Elizabeth Warren might be headed towards the nomination, and Bloomberg and his (rich) friends seem very concerned that she might not be able to beat Donald Trump. Their concern may be very valid. So, basically Bloomberg is running as an "insurance policy."

There are so many unknowns though. For one thing, does the specter of Bloomberg merely warming up on the sidelines make things even worse for Biden in terms of fundraising and organizational support? Is this part of Bloomberg's plan or does he genuinely prefer to basically be drafted out of necessity? I will be interested to see once he goes public if he actually says that he wants people to pick him ahead of everyone else. In the meantime, Biden has had no choice but to basically welcome him into the race, while Warren and Bernie Sanders have gone out of their way to trash Bloomberg as a "billionaire trying to buy the election" to suit their own needs and please their own bases. This also greatly complicates matters for candidates such as Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar who get mentioned the most as those who might benefit if Biden fizzles out early and panic about Warren sets in.

For a variety of reasons, there is likely not a great hunger to elect a person like Bloomberg as President, but the prospect of a Trump vs. Warren general election might make a lot of people look towards unconventional last ditch options. I wish Bloomberg would have taken this into account and ran as an Independent.

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

NFL Week 10 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS

Overall Results: 52-82 (39%)

1. Chargers (4-5) at Raiders (4-4)

2. Ravens (6-2) at Bengals (0-8)
3. Bills (6-2) at Browns (2-6)
4. Lions (3-4-1) at Bears (3-5)
5. Giants (2-7) at Jets (1-7)
6. Chiefs (6-3) at Titans (4-5)
7. Cardinals (3-5-1) at Buccaneers (2-6)
8. Falcons (1-7) at Saints (7-1)
9. Dolphins (1-7) at Colts (5-3)
10. Rams (5-3) at Steelers (4-4)
11. Panthers (5-3) at Packers (7-2)
12. Vikings (6-3) at Cowboys (5-3)

13. Seahawks (7-2) at 49ers (8-0)

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

NFL Week 9 Results

NOT PREDICTIONS

I have to say, I am finding myself enjoying Election Night tonight more than I have this NFL season.

1. 49ers (7-0) at Cardinals (3-4-1) L 1

2. Texans (5-3) vs. Jaguars (4-4) in London, England W 1
3. Redskins (1-7) at Bills (5-2) W 2
4. Vikings (6-2) at Chiefs (5-3) W 3
5. Jets (1-6) at Dolphins (0-7) W 4
6. Bears (3-4) at Eagles (4-4) L 2
7. Colts (5-2) at Steelers (3-4) W 5
8. Titans (4-4) at Panthers (4-3) L 3
9. Lions (3-3-1) at Raiders (3-4) W 6
10. Buccaneers (2-5) at Seahawks (6-2) L 4
11. Browns (2-5) at Broncos (2-6) W 7
12. Packers (7-1) at Chargers (3-5) W 8
13. Patriots (8-0) at Ravens (5-2) W 9

14. Cowboys (4-3) at Giants (2-6) L 5

Week 9 Results: 9-5  (64%)
Overall Results: 52-82 (39%)

Sunday, November 03, 2019

Mississippi Governor Election

Status: Republican Open

2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Republican

As one of five states to pick Governors in odd year elections, Mississippi has not gotten much attention in recent years, as Republicans have dominated the state. While the GOP is easily expected to win the other statewide races this year as well, the one for Governor is believed to be closer than it has been for a long time. Still, it would be pretty surprising if Democrats can pull off the upset and win for the first time in 20 years.

In what is news to most people outside of the state, including myself, the Magnolia State actually has a bit of an Electoral College system in effect for Governor. It has been the case that a candidate must win a majority of the popular vote as well as a majority of the state House districts. Apparently, this has not been an issue, but if it does not happen, then the contest goes to the State House to pick a winner. Putting aside the requirement to win the House districts as well, this system is very similar to Vermont. In Mississippi though, Republicans easily hold the State House majority. Democrats have challenged this requirement, saying it is unfair to potential black candidates, however the real reason to oppose it seems more obvious. The past few days have seen more discussion about this quirk in state law than ever before. A federal judge ruled recently that the law cannot be blocked. Thus, in a competitive election, it appears that a Republican can win even if they finish with the second most votes and the Democrat wins a plurality. The last time a Democrat won, as mentioned, was in 1999, when their candidate won a plurality but not a majority of the vote. However, the State House then was controlled by Democrats who chose the first place winner. This year, there will be much controversy if a Republican majority chooses the second place finisher if it comes to that.

After serving eight years, Republican incumbent Phil Bryant is term limited. Many in Washington D.C. had wanted him to resign as Governor in 2018, as a lame duck to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. Instead, Bryant picked another candidate, who had some difficulty in holding the seat, though she ultimately did so. Before that though, many thought he would have to choose between Republican Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. Both men also said they had no desire to go to Washington and were believed to be focused on the 2019 race for Governor. Of course had Bryant resigned, Reeves would have automatically become Governor. It looked like it was headed for a showdown between these two top GOPers in waiting, but Hosemann instead decided to run for Lt. Governor (which is elected separately) leaving Reeves with a seemingly clear path to the nomination.

However, that would not be the case as Reeves saw credible challengers in the March primary and was held to 49 percent of the vote, meaning he had to win a runoff three weeks later. The third place finisher, State Representative Robert Foster received 17 percent and then threw his support behind runner-up Bill Waller Jr., a former State Supreme Court Chief Justice, whose father had served as Mississippi's Democrat Governor for a part of the 1970s. Thirty three percent of GOP primary voters had voted for Waller in the first round, many believing he was the most electable. Still, Reeves had most of the establishment behind him and had come close to avoiding the runoff in the first place. In the second round of voting, he beat Waller by 8 percent. As is the case this year in Kentucky, divisions have remained in the GOP post primary as Waller has refused to endorse Reeves.

In spite of all this drama among Republicans, in most cycles it would not matter as Democrats on the statewide level have been decimated over the past couple decades in a state they had dominated. Now, the party is made up mostly of African-American voters who are not typically competitive statewide. There has been one Democrat in Mississippi though, a white man, who has been able to consistently win statewide since 2003 and who has been talked about as a hopeful for Governor or U.S. Senate for years now. This year, Attorney General Jim Hood decided the timing was right to run for Governor and easily won the primary with 69 percent of the vote. A handful of mostly black opponents took the remainder of the primary vote with the second place finisher, at 11 percent, being someone named Michael Brown who did not mount an active campaign.

Without a doubt, Hood is the best potential Democrat to win statewide in Mississippi while Reeves has demonstrated that he is not been able to fully unite his party behind him. The Democrat nominee is trying to push his moderate credentials and running as a supporter of gun rights and against abortion, similar to the path that elected a Democrat in Louisiana four years and which may reelect him this year. Clearly, there are not any current Democrat Presidential contenders that can claim to have much in common with Hood. In this general election, neither nominee exactly cuts a physical image of a politician from central casting.

Reeves is being propped up by support from Donald Trump, which is a big deal in Mississippi. As is the case in Kentucky, the nationalizing of the election and discussion of impeachment probably serves to drive a higher conservative turnout. Independent polls of late have shown Reeves ahead of Hood but potentially by a very small margin. A wildcard in this race, at least in terms of getting a majority of the vote for Reeves, may be the presence of the Constitution Party nominee, which is considered a right-wing party (and after all many on the right have had various problems with Reeves), but that candidate is also African-American, unlike the official Democrat nominee.

I think this race will be slightly more favorable to Republicans than the one in Kentucky due to national factors. Donald Trump held a rally in the state on Friday evening and that could prove beneficial. It is hard for Hood to attack Trump without running the risk of losing some of the support he will need to win himself. He has tried to walk a tight rope and remain neutral on the impeachment question.

A Hood victory will generate headlines across the country (as would a win in for the Democrat in Kentucky) though the concept of Hood being Pro-Life and anti-gun control might be hard for national Democrats to ignore. However, I think Reeves is probably going to win a narrow victory to keep the Governorship in Republican hands. If something happens though where Hood gets more votes but falls short of the two steps needed for outright victory, there will be a bit of a political firestorm about what will happen next.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 44

Believe it or not, the Presidential election is just one year from tomorrow. One year. That feels a lot quicker than I expected it to be. I wish I could be more excited about it all. In past elections, I had a candidate that I was excited about and wanted to see elected President. That is not technically the case this year, although I would find it a proud and defiant moment to cast a primary ballot for Joe Walsh (assuming I do not pull a Democrat ballot for the first time ever to vote in a local race), this Presidential election year is mostly about just hoping someone in particular loses. Then, I will be on to opposing whomever gets elected in a year and a day. There could always be a miracle though...

Lots has happened this week and I am certain to forget something that I wanted to touch on. Earlier this week, the Washington Nationals won the World Series and this was quite a story for that franchise and for that team this season.  I could write a whole blog post just about that, but I am a Cubs fan of course, so there is no reason to do so. I am glad they won though, and amazed that a road team won all 7 games of the series. So, that means last Sunday, the National lost to the Houston Astros, with Donald Trump in attendance for part of the game. While he and Melania were surrounded by Republican Congressional acolytes, the reaction from the crowd when he appeared on the scoreboard was pretty clear. He was booed lustily. Crowds of people started chanting, "Lock him up!" By Trump's reaction, he was either very surprised or quite pissed. Likely both. I am glad we have a free society where such an expression of opposition to the leader is allowed. To be sure, many other Presidents would have been booed at a big sporting event as well, although perhaps not with this much unanimity. For this particular venue though in Washington D.C., where the crowd was filled with predominately wealthy people who might have some sort of tie to the government or related business, the reaction to Trump was actually bi-partisan, and that sets him apart from other Presidents who would just get booed by devotees of one party. This was perhaps the most bipartisan moment in the nation's Capitol since September 2001.

After weeks of Republicans claiming that there was a lack of transparency in regards to impeachment proceedings, Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave in and scheduled a vote to officially launch the impeachment inquiry. Republicans then complained about that too. They are very interested at this point in arguing about the process rather than the substance. On pretty much a party line vote (with two Democrats joining Republicans and Independent libertarian Justin Amash joining the Democrats) the measure passed. Official public hearings will begin this month and could go a long way in shaping public opinion as to what Trump did and how people feel about it. The "leaked news" from the closed door proceedings has tended to paint a dark picture for Trump in which it appears clear that many people assumed that he was asking Ukraine for a quid pro quo. A highly decorated Lt. Colonel who listened to the call and expressed concern spoke to the select group this week. Some Trump allies are shamefully trying to attack his patriotism or the fact that he was born in the Soviet Union before fleeing at the age of 3 with his family as Jewish refugees. Other Republicans have thankfully fired back against those who would question Col. Vindman's patriotism.

On the Democrat Presidential front, the pack shrank a bit yesterday in a bit of a surprise announcement that former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke was calling it quits. He went from being one of the most highly touted politicians in the country last year, when he came close to beating Ted Cruz for a Senate seat in Texas to a bust of a Presidential candidate. The timing was right for O'Rourke to try to capitalize on his moment of fame and run in this cycle. He just was not a good candidate and that is why very few Democrats flocked to him. It is just not the same when your opponent is not Ted Cruz. So "Beto" came across as a bit of an empty suit and much of his campaign was seen as gimmicky and desperate. The comparisons to Barack Obama are probably going to pass, although it is very possible that O'Rourke will run for something again.

Another one highly touted Democrat prospect is California Senator Kamala Harris. When she entered the race, she was declared one to watch and after one debate, was expected to rocket towards the top. Instead, her campaign has gone the opposite direction and she is now laying off staffers in New Hampshire and said to be gambling it all on Iowa. These kinds of choices have of course been made by candidates from both parties in the past. Sometimes they work, but usually they are a sign of impending doom. Many point to a clash in another debate with Hawai'i Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard as the start of Harris's slippage. At the time, Harris said she was not concerned about being attacked by a candidate who was polling as poorly as Gabbard. Now, there are polls showing Gabbard running ahead of Harris. Hillary Clinton may have something to do with that fact as well.

Last night in Des Moines, it seemed like all the candidates took part in a big event for the party that always gets a lot of attention when Democrats are seeking the White House. Forever, it was called the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, but those past Presidents clearly have some historical problems, so now the event is named "Freedom and Equality" or something like that. The candidates all have about 10 minutes to make a stump speech and they bring in scores of supporters to chant and wave signs and all that. It is definitely a sign of organization and who might be able to get their people out on Caucus night. Twelve years ago, this was a big boost for the Obama campaign in Iowa. Watching portions of this event reminded me how exciting it was when Republicans had big "cattle calls" in the 1996 and 2000 cycles.

While Joe Biden gave a pretty energetic speech at the event, it was clear that he has nowhere near the biggest or most enthusiastic cheering section. That seemed to definitely be Elizabeth Warren with Pete Buttigieg perhaps not that far behind. Even some other candidates looked like they sold more tickets than the Biden campaign. For whatever political ceiling he may have in South Carolina or elsewhere, Buttigieg is clearly surging in Iowa and the Midwesterner is well-organized in the Hawkeye State.

In regards to this event, the candidates sort of spoke in a theater in the round kind of deal with people sitting in the arena at different angles. They tended to walk around the stage with a hand held microphone which is typical for this event. (I noticed that Bernie Sanders seemed to be the only one who had a podium brought out, which was interesting.) Some on the right are taking clips of Biden out of context because he at times was speaking to people in the crowd with his back to the television camera as he tried to engage the live audience. This has led to all sorts of goofy talk among right-wingers online about how Biden was "losing it" and addressing a blank screen.

Iowa polls are beginning to show Biden could potentially finish fourth in Iowa which would be hard for his campaign to spin. I still have a hard time seeing Warren and Sanders both being strong enough to make the Top Three though. Whatever happens in Iowa will set the table though for what is to come for the Democrats moving forward. There is a clear divide now over the "Medicaid for All" proposal backed by both Sanders and Warren but opposed by Biden and Buttigieg. Last this week, Warren released details of a plan she said would not raise taxes on the middle class, but it was roundly panned as unrealistic.

These have been just some quick observations over a very busy week in politics. I can just think of one thing more worth mentioning. In a pretty historic Presidential move, the incumbent has officially changed his state of residence. While he hopes to continue living in the White House, Donald and Mrs. Trump have officially changed their home state from New York to Florida. Many others have done this though over many past decades, but especially recent years.

Whether this is about paying less taxes or being in a better position to fight efforts by New York Democrats to get Trump to release his taxes, the current President is now officially a citizen of the Sunshine State, where he has owned the estate Mar-A-Lago for many years now. Florida is one of our most well-populated state and he is the first President to ever be from there. (I would have picked at least two other Florida Republicans last cycle of course well before him.)

Florida is of course well known as the place people retire to and many watching this campaign unfold will hope that will soon be the case for Trump. There are also those headlines about all sorts of weird crimes and behavior that come out of Florida.

One thing is pretty clear. Before long there will be a headline declaring, "Florida Man Gets Impeached."

Friday, November 01, 2019

Kentucky Governor Election

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Prediction: Tossup (D)

Political handicappers, amateur and professional alike are feeling hindered by the lack of polls in this race. Without a tremendous data pool of information, this is more of a guessing game than anything. The incumbent has been very unpopular during his four years in office, but the opposition party has a very uphill battle in winning statewide, though they used to dominate the Commonwealth. We will find out on Tuesday... probably.

Four years ago, Republican Matt Bevin entered Election Day considered a modest underdog. He had been a somewhat fluke winner of his party's primary by a scant 83 votes statewide, and many believed he ran an undisciplined and disappointing general election campaign. Kentucky voted though and Bevin won the Governorship by nearly nine points. This was a surprising result that showed just how Republican the Bluegrass State had become and was certainly a foreshadowing of the success the GOP would enjoy the next year in conservative areas, regardless of past political pedigree or economic status.

Bevin, a former Tea Party activist who first made his name in politics by an unsuccessful challenge to U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has not had a smooth ride as Governor. He has feuded with Democrats and the media, not much unlike Donald Trump on the federal level. A difference though is that many members of Bevin's own party have continued to publicly snub him. In this May's primary, the incumbent was held to an unimpressive 52 percent of the vote against three candidates. The most serious contender, who won 39 percent was State Representative Robert Goforth, a fairly little known figure. There does not seem to have been any coming together after the primary between the two former rivals. Nonetheless, 52 percent is a lot better than wining by 83 votes and Bevin went forward in an attempt to become the first ever Republican Governor of Kentucky to win a second term.

Candidates must run with their picks for Lt. Governor in the primary and there was one change on the Bevin side. While four years ago, he picked Tea Party activist Jenean Hampton, an African-American woman as his running-mate, Bevin surprised many, including the Lt. Governor herself, by dumping her in his bid for reelection. Instead, he filed papers to run with State Senator Ralph Alvarado, a physician.

The Democrats had a field of four candidates for Governor, each with their own pick for Lt. Governor. Three of these tickets were considered possible of winning the nomination. Finishing in third place, with 28 percent was the most liberal of the contenders. Adam Edelen had been the statewide elected Auditor of Kentucky before losing reelection to a Republican in 2015. Finishing in second place with 32 percent was the most conservative of the three major Democrats. State Senate Minority Leader Rocky Adkins had been around politics for decades and was seen as having the best chance to appeal to culturally conservative voters in a general election.

The nomination went though to the candidate who likely had the most famous name. Andy Beshear was able to overcome the GOP tide in 1995 to be elected Attorney General. This came as his father Steve Beshear was finishing up two terms as Kentucky's Democrat Governor. Now 41 years old, the younger Beshear is looking to take the job of the man who replaced his father as Governor. This is somewhat similar to Jerry Brown succeeding Ronald Reagan in California, (or George W. Bush taking the Presidency when Bill Clinton retired)  although Reagan had beaten the elder Brown, served two terms, and was not a candidate when the son won the office. The Lt. Governor running-mate of Andy Beshear is Jacqueline Coleman, a teacher and non-profit founder. She had lost a bid for State Representative a few years earlier.

Many feel that if Beshear even comes close to defeating Bevin, that such a result would portend bad things for Republicans in Kentucky headed into 2020. I do not think that is the case. Statewide contests can traditionally be very different than federal races and Matt Bevin's political vulnerabilities are likely a product of the man himself. Another Republican might be faring much better at this point, while it is also possible that a more conservative Democrat would have a better chance of winning.

As mentioned, polls on this race have been few and far between and political junkies have been wanting to see them, especially since Bevin's surprisingly weak primary victory. The most recent poll had the Democrat Beshear ahead by a whopping 19 points, but not even Democrats are said to believing those numbers. Some earlier Democrat polls have given Beshear a smaller but firm lead. The only non-partisan poll since June seems to be from Mason-Dixon and shows a complete dead heat. Polls have consistently shown Bevin to be among the most unpopular Governors anywhere in America but as Election Day approaches, some Republicans may have warmed up a bit more and those numbers seem to have slightly improved. Mitch McConnell, the former Bevin opponent, is said to be actively working to reelect the Governor.

All things considered, Bevin is in a very poor spot for an incumbent. Conventional wisdom would be that he would lose, but everyone is mindful of his somewhat surprise victory four years ago and by the solid margin he won by, before he is counted out. Donald Trump is seen as having low job approval numbers nationwide, but that is not the case in Kentucky, which is almost certainly one of his strongest states, due to coal mining and all that. The incumbent will be flying in on Air Force One on Election Eve this Monday to stump for Bevin and the other Republican candidates, whom are believed to be favorites in their own races. This appearance by Trump, whom will certainly try to nationalize this race by talking about impeachment and the Democrats in Washington D.C. could truly make a difference in this race in favor of the candidate of his party. We know he will take all the credit on Twitter if that occurs.

Neither result in this race will surprise me one bit, including a victory by more than five points from either candidate. What I would most want to know is what Republicans who do not like Bevin will do in this race. While rural Democrats are likely to keep voting conservative, could urban and suburban moderate Republicans in the Louisville area go for a Democrat this year?

Since I absolutely have to offer a guess, I will say that Beshear narrowly wins, as Democrats have almost always done in Kentucky Gubernatorial contests, even as the state has gone very red at the federal level. If this does not come to pass, and Bevin, with all his problems, wins another four years, Democrats would probably be wise to forget all about any attempt to knock off Mitch McConnell next year.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

NFL Week 9 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS

Overall Results: 43-77 (36%)

1. 49ers (7-0) at Cardinals (3-4-1)

2. Texans (5-3) vs. Jaguars (4-4) in London, England
3. Redskins (1-7) at Bills (5-2)
4. Vikings (6-2) at Chiefs (5-3)
5. Jets (1-6) at Dolphins (0-7)
6. Bears (3-4) at Eagles (4-4)
7. Colts (5-2) at Steelers (3-4)
8. Titans (4-4) at Panthers (4-3)
9. Lions (3-3-1) at Raiders (3-4)
10. Buccaneers (2-5) at Seahawks (6-2)
11. Browns (2-5) at Broncos (2-6)
12. Packers (7-1) at Chargers (3-5)
13. Patriots (8-0) at Ravens (5-2)

14. Cowboys (4-3) at Giants (2-6)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

NFL Week 8 Results

NOT PREDICTIONS

This season pretty much turned out to be awful before it was half-way over.

1. Redskins (1-6) at Vikings (5-2) L 1

2. Seahawks (5-2) at Falcons (1-6) L 2
3. Broncos (2-5) at Colts (4-2) L 3
4. Buccaneers (2-4) at Titans (3-4) W 1
5. Cardinals (3-3-1) at Saints (6-1) L 4
6. Bengals (0-7) vs. Rams (4-3) in London, England L 5
7. Eagles (3-4) at Bills (5-1) L 6
8. Chargers (2-5) at Bears (3-3) L 7
9. Giants (2-5) at Lions (2-3-1) L 8
10. Jets (1-5) at Jaguars (3-4) W 2
11. Panthers (4-2) at 49ers (6-0) L 9
12. Raiders (3-3) at Texans (4-3) W 3
13. Browns (2-4) at Patriots (7-0) L 10
14. Packers (6-1) at Chiefs (5-2) L 11


15. Dolphins (0-6) at Steelers (2-4) W 4

Week 8 Results: 4-11 (27%)
Overall Results: 43-77 (36%)

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 43

One hundred days from today, Democrats and Republicans will gather across Iowa in the first leg of the voting process to choose the President. While many candidates are running in the middle of the country, the choices will not be sufficient to many in the middle of America who will regret not having more or better choices. Such is democracy. Right now, the winner of the GOP Caucus seems certain and the Democrat contest is believed to truly be between just two contenders.

In the meantime, the nation's capital and a stadium of "racing past Presidents" is hosting the World Series this weekend, for the first time since the early 1930s. The incumbent is expected to attend Game 5 tomorrow night but may not be recognized in a formal way. The reaction to him might be far from friendly (although World Series crowds, even in D.C. itself) are likely to be very white and very rich.

Much can change though in the course of 100 days in politics. This week saw some minor changes announced as Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan ended his blue-collar oriented campaign for President. Since he has not been in the last couple of debates, many have forgotten that he was still even running. That also applies to several other back of the pack Democrats who have been eclipsed by the likes of Andrew Yang. Ryan is now focused on seeking another term to his House seat, but he could be a bit of an outside the box choice for Vice President, provided that Elizabeth Warren is the one to pick a running-mate.

While a candidate like Julian Castro of Texas is now asking for money to stay in the race (a tactic that worked not long ago for Cory Booker), Hawai'i Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has made it clear she intends to stay in the race. In fact, she has made it clear she will not run for reelection to her House seat, which after all the hubub last week raises eyebrows about if she will indeed perhaps abandon her party or try to somehow run as an Independent candidate. If she does, would she take left-wing votes from the eventual Democrat or take the votes of "contrarian trolls" from Donald Trump who like her isolationist foreign policy views.

Joe Biden continues to be in a tricky place. Some polls show him comfortably ahead nationally, even gaining ground in recent weeks. However, his fundraising has not been impressive. This is leading him to go back on a pledge to not utilize a Super PAC. In fact, other Democrat candidates, including Elizabeth Warren, are suggesting that they will not do various fundraising things that past nominees have. That leaves the party risking running well behind Donald Trump financially in the fall.

State polls out of Iowa and New Hampshire are telling a bit of a different take for Biden. To be fair, he is in striking position to win both, and if that happens, it could effectively wrap up the contest for him early on. However, what happens if he loses both to Warren? What if he comes in third place somewhere or worse? That would make it virtually impossible for him to recover. That is why so many are thinking that in spite of the current national polls, Warren might still be in a better position. This has lead to fear among many Democrats about her electability against Trump which is why there is increased media chatter about Hillary Clinton or Michael Bloomberg jumping into the Democrat fray later in the game. (I even heard a local radio host this week mention Eric Holder.) Others, still think Michelle Obama will somehow emerge victorious when all the dust settles. Frankly, that might not be a bad result for the party, though I still think Oprah Winfrey is the most electable possible Democrat.

With former Starbucks honcho Howard Schultz completely out of the picture, there is news this week that Ed Stack the billionaire CEO of Dick's Sporting Goods (apparently Dick was his father), is testing the waters and conducting focus groups about running for President as an Independent. Stack is a longtime Republican donor but most recently made some headlines that pleased the left when his chain of stores stopped selling certain types of guns.Needless to say, I remain interested in any possible center-right alternative to the Democrats and Donald Trump.

My opposition to Trump remains rock-solid especially as each day brings more news and more unhinged reaction to the process that will result in Trump being formally impeached by the U.S. House before the end of the year. He also went ahead and said that as a "Never Trumper Republican", I am "human scum" as well as being "more dangerous than the Democrats."

I went ahead and sent $5 to the Presidential campaign of Republican Joe Walsh, a more recent convert to the NeverTrump cause, just to get a "Human Scum" window sticker. I will probably not put it on my car, but it might be a nice historical political artifact.

"Human scum" though? Well for one thing, I can look at the positive and point out that by saying "human", Trump at least thinks somewhat more of us than dark skinned immigrants. However, the message is clear. White House officials do not even try to walk it back anymore. They just agree that anyone who opposes Trump is "scum." The embattled President also used a reference to "lynching" this week to describe the current impeachment inquiry. I was very offended when I saw what he said and he was roundly denounced, especially by Democrats. Not surprisingly though, Democrats seemed to coordinate use of that racially charged word themselves 21 years ago when Bill Clinton was in a similar predicament. So, I am all but certain Trump used it for multiple reasons, including a "gotcha" against Democrats such as Joe Biden, who had to say he was wrong to use it in 1998, but that what Trump said now is worse.

It seems to be the defense of Trump on cable tv and on the internet is more and more desperate. A pro-Trump writer recently said that if Trump is defeated in 2020, it would be a "coup." That's about as crazy as it gets. The more common talking point is that impeaching him would "overturn the 2020 elections." Not really. After all, Hillary Clinton would not become President. Others use terms such as "regicide" as if Trump were a King and impeachment were murder.

Clearly, there is a lot of evidence against Trump (and Rudy Giuliani) as it relates to Ukraine but if Senate Republicans stand tough behind him, then he will not be thrown from office. Trump has called on Republicans to "get tougher" in defending him and this week a bunch of conservative House members took part in a stunt (not much unlike stunts Democrats have pulled in the past) to show up and demand access to the "secret" hearing rooms where impeachment witnesses were being interviewed. Of course, this is the same procedure that happened when Nixon was President and when Clinton was President and what Republicans did a few years ago in regards to the Benghazi scandal. So, this was all for show and all to personally get Trump to notice them. After all, Republicans on the relevant committees were allowed to be present at these sessions. Many of them who had the right to be there, instead tried to "break in" which is as goofy as it sounds.

Many on the left truly believe that people on the right are a "basket of deplorables." That line itself likely cost Hillary Clinton an election she was certain she had in the bag. I think that attitude towards any amount of Americans en masse is pretty sad, but Trump going even further and saying that Americans are "human scum" if they do not agree with him is even worse. I note though that he seems especially upset at the Republicans this week who do not like him. After all, some in his Administration are "testifying" against him and Mitt Romney continues to be, at least in the Senate the conscience of a party that seems to have lost it.

As Trump said, the number of NeverTrumpers in the GOP is small, but it is likely growing. He said something also about us being on "respirators." That remains to be seen, but for Americans like myself, clearly it will be necessary to speak out against the moral disgrace that is Donald Trump as long as we have the breath to do so.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

NFL Week 8 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS

Overall Results: 39-66 (37%)

1. Redskins (1-6) at Vikings (5-2)

2. Seahawks (5-2) at Falcons (1-6)
3. Broncos (2-5) at Colts (4-2)
4. Buccaneers (2-4) at Titans (3-4)
5. Cardinals (3-3-1) at Saints (6-1)
6. Bengals (0-7) vs. Rams (4-3) in London, England
7. Eagles (3-4) at Bills (5-1)
8. Chargers (2-5) at Bears (3-3)
9. Giants (2-5) at Lions (2-3-1)
10. Jets (1-5) at Jaguars (3-4)
11. Panthers (4-2) at 49ers (6-0)
12. Raiders (3-3) at Texans (4-3)
13. Browns (2-4) at Patriots (7-0)
14. Packers (6-1) at Chiefs (5-2)

15. Dolphins (0-6) at Steelers (2-4)

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

NFL Week 7 Results

NOT PREDICTIONS--- but still upsetting..

l. Chiefs (4-2) at Broncos (2-4) W 1

2. Rams (3-3) at Falcons (1-5) L 1
3. Dolphins (0-5) at Bills (4-1) W 2
4. Jaguars (2-4) at Bengals (0-6) L 2
5. Vikings (4-2) at Lions (2-2-1) L 3
6. Raiders (3-2) at Packers (5-1) L 4
7. Texans (4-2) at Colts (3-2) L 5
8. Cardinals (2-3-1) at Giants (2-4) L 6
9. 49ers (5-0) at Redskins (1-5) L 7
10. Chargers (2-4) at Titans (2-4) W 3
11. Saints (5-1) at Bears (3-2) L 8
12. Ravens (4-2) at Seahawks (5-1) W 4
13. Eagles (3-3) at Cowboys (3-3) W 5

14. Patriots (6-0) at Jets (1-4) L 9

Week 7 Results: 5-9 (36%)
Overall Results: 39-66 (37%)

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 42

There are so many political fronts that could be covered this weekend and no way I will be able to touch on everything. From a debate, to a major endorsement, to fundraising totals being released, to the ongoing impeachment saga, to a foreign policy kerfuffle, the week was full of action.

Twelve Democrats debated in Ohio this week, while at least half a dozen in the field were not included, and pretty much are out of the picture. Among the dozen that did enter the spotlight, only a few really mattered. With so many candidates though, Joe Biden sort of remained in the background, and that might be ok with him. There was not discussion of him making any sort of major gaffe and the other candidate largely avoided going after him. It seems like Donald Trump's obsession with Biden's son and Ukraine has generated him some immunity, at least for now, from intra-party attacks. This week, Hunter Biden did say that while he did absolutely nothing wrong, he will never do it again, and if his father is President, he will stay off of foreign boards.

It was also a fairly uneventful debate for Bernie Sanders, just a bit over a week after having a heart attack, and that also suited his needs pretty well. (It should also be mentioned that Sanders' 46 year old daughter in law died recently of cancer, although it does not seem like the Sanders campaign even recognized that fact publicly.) It is good for news for the Vermont Senator that he was able to look like his old self (no pun intended) for the three hour affair.

Instead, it seemed like the other Democrat candidates were focused on going after Elizabeth Warren, and she may have taken her first real political hits in a while. I will note though that only Julian Castro seemed to avoid criticizing her. Does he think he has a deal to be her running-mate? At varying degrees of effect other candidates though from Kamala Harris (fairly ineffective) to the more primed Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar took on Warren for her policy proposals and how forthcoming she has been over the cost tag. I think Buttigieg and Klobuchar in particular had strong nights, but will it really matter at this point? This could still prove to be a race between Warren and Biden. However, in terms of cash on hand, Biden is well behind Warren, Sanders, and Buttigieg.

The overall content of the debate continued to be very left-wing. Besides for the attacks on Donald Trump and some reasoned support for the Kurds, I found virtually nothing to agree with. This continues to be a risk for Democrats as they go up against a polarizing President, whom many will still vote for simply because they fear what will happen if the other side wins.

The Sanders campaign did receive a jolt of enthusiasm when he was endorsed by freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who first entered the political realm as part of the "Bernie Revolution" four years ago. Fellow "Squad" members Ihan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan are also apparently on board. The AOC endorsement was unveiled today at a very large Sanders rally in New York City. Conventional wisdom is that it will still be tough for Sanders to somehow overcome Elizabeth Warren as the top "progressive" in the race, but Sanders money and grassroots support cannot be overlooked. It is amazing how he has seemed to survive the media storm that would have occurred in cycles past if a 78 year old candidate suffered a heart attack.

Donald Trump had his typically crazy week and there are rumblings, though relatively quiet of Republican fatigue on Capitol Hill beginning to seep in. Many pages could be written about the situation in Syria regarding the Kurds and Turkey and all the ramifications of it. The entire situation is very troubling. Donald Trump genuinely seems to want to "end wars" perhaps because he thinks he might one day win a Nobel Peace Prize, but politicians in both parties (which does not necessarily speak to the surface attitudes of the American people) have reacted very badly to the decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. When it looked like a slaughter was underway, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were sent to the region and proclaimed a cease-fire had been agreed to. This was after the Administration leaked a goofy letter in which Trump told Turkish President Erdogan that he should not be a "tough guy" or a "fool." That letter apparently made it into the trash.

So, now Trump of course is praising himself for this "great deal" and how everyone will be happy. It seems though like we gave Turkey everything they wanted and that Trump got rolled. For example,we are apparently abandoning our own equipment.  Utah Senator Mitt Romney is calling for an investigation of the whole thing. We know this week that when Trump received political pushback for his policy he made the outrageous statement that the Kurds (longtime U.S. allies) were more dangerous than ISIS and then that illegal immigrants from Mexico are more dangerous than ISIS. Suddenly, Trump is trying to downplay ISIS in a shameful way. People on my side were outraged when Barack Obama used to do that. Trump tried to downplay them this week from Obama's "JV Squad" to a 5th grade girls team. The consequences of all this are serious. A strengthened ISIS will harm Americans, potentially hear at home, and that blood will be on Trump's hands.


All of this was happening as Trump continued to fight with Congressional Democrats. This might al be somewhat related though, as the day the U.S. House voted to disapprove of Trump's Syria policy, in which Republicans by more than 2-1 also went on the record in opposition, Trump had a "meltdown" in a meeting with Congressional leaders. Of course, he also accused Nancy Pelosi of having a "meltdown" and of being a "third rate" or "third grade" politician. This is all fine for Pelosi in keeping her street cred within the party and she publicized the photo of her pointing her finger at Trump. The media liked that photo better of the one where then Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pointed a finger at then President Obama. As we have seen before, both Pelosi and Trump all but accused each other of being mentally unwell.

Pelosi also said this week and she may have a point then when it comes to all Trump foreign policy decisions, "all roads lead to Putin." This week, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney suddenly emerged publicly to hold a rare White House press briefing. He had to defend the decision of Trump to hold next year's G7 Summit at a Trump golf resort in Miami, which many claim is purely unethical or illegal considering his role as President. Then, there was also the Ukraine matter. Mulvaney seemed to say very flatly that yes, there was a quid pro quo to give aid to Ukraine in association with their looking into who tried to hurt Trump politically in 2016. Mulvaney says this happened all the time. Then, with the media going crazy and many Republicans said to be extremely taken aback, another statement was released in which Mulvaney tried to say "nevermind."  Impeachment is going to be a hell of a ride.

Reportedly in this meeting, Trump also said that his first Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, was "the greatest overrated general" and that he, Trump, was personally responsible for killing ISIS in one month. Mattis got a bit of a chance to fire back at the Al Smith Dinner on Thursday when he said that he was honored to be the "Meryl Streep of Generals" and that he had gotten his spurs on the battlefield while Trump got his in a letter from his doctor. Please speak our more General Mattis!

With all this happening, perhaps the weirdest story occurred yesterday. In some sort of interview, Hillary Clinton said that the Russians were working to mount a third party effort to help Trump win reelection. Without naming names, she was clearly talking about current Democrat candidate Tulsi Gabbard, the young Congresswoman from Hawai'i being groomed by the Russians to do just that. (Clinton also said once again that 2016 Green Party nominee Jill Stein was a "Russian asset.")

Firstly, many people believe there is something very weird about Gabbard including her ties to Bashar Assad of Syria, and her reluctance to call him out as a murderer. In theory, Gabbard is serving the purposes of the Russians by supporting a foreign policy that weakens America. Calling her basically a traitor to the country though might be  a bit much, especially since she is an officer in the United States Army who has fought overseas. If Clinton genuinely believes Gabbard is a tool of a hostile government, she must also want her to be court martialed and brought up on charges.

So while Hillary was perhaps not entirely off base to be suspicious of Gabbard, it really was politically dumb of her to bring all this up publicly. Gabbard is no risk of winning the Democrat nomination. She has said she will not run as an Independent candidate and many states have laws that would prevent her from doing so anyway after previously running this cycle as a Democrat. So, this was a case of punching down. One can think of Teddy Roosevelt turning on William Howard Taft though or Mitt Romney giving a blistering speech about Donald Trump and lump this in as examples of immediate past nominees attacking an active candidate for President in their own party. What Clinton said might have been harshest of all though.

Not surprising Gabbard, whom in 2016 had backed Bernie Sanders, fired back on Twitter with both barrels,  saying things such as Hillary Clinton was the "epitome of corruption" and the "Queen of Warmongers." She also maybe went a bit crazy in theorizing that Mrs. Clinton was the source of all the whispers about her from the start of the campaign and then oddly challenged the former Secretary of State to enter the Presidential race directly against her.

So, Gabbard is a lot more famous than she was before Hillary Clinton called her out (even unnamed) and will raise a lot of money for her fledgling campaign because of it. Even many Trump supporters like her weirdness and similarity to Trump on some foreign policy matters. If there was not much talk about Gabbard running as a third party candidate before, that might increase now, at least to the extent she could legally do so. Some think Clinton did this deliberately in order to box Gabbard in. I think it was a political miscalculation that further alienates Democrats from their most recent nominee. After Gabbard fired back, nobody in the field really seemed to jump to Clinton's defense.

This feud may continue to play out, perhaps in next year's Congressional primary in Hawai'i, in which Gabbard is expected to run again. First though, Secretary Clinton pulled out of an event that also had Gabbard on the schedule.

Finally, this morning, Tulsi Gabbard, a woman of Samoan background and an adherent of the Hindu religion was endorsed for President by infamous white nationalist David Duke, whom apparently is over Trump now. He said that Gabbard as President would not send white children to die for Israel. At least she had the sense to immediately reject the endorsement.



Wednesday, October 16, 2019

NFL Week 7 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS

Overall Results: 34-57 (37%)

NOT PREDICTIONS


l. Chiefs (4-2) at Broncos (2-4)

2. Rams (3-3) at Falcons (1-5)
3. Dolphins (0-5) at Bills (4-1)
4. Jaguars (2-4) at Bengals (0-6)
5. Vikings (4-2) at Lions (2-2-1)
6. Raiders (3-2) at Packers (5-1)
7. Texans (4-2) at Colts (3-2)
8. Cardinals (2-3-1) at Giants (2-4)
9. 49ers (5-0) at Redskins (1-5)
10. Chargers (2-4) at Titans (2-4)
11. Saints (5-1) at Bears (3-2)
12. Ravens (4-2) at Seahawks (5-1)
13. Eagles (3-3) at Cowboys (3-3)

14. Patriots (6-0) at Jets (1-4)


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

NFL Week 6 Results

NOT PREDICTIONS

1. Giants (2-3) at Patriots (5-0) W 1

2. Panthers (3-2) vs. Buccaneers (2-3) in London, England L 1
3. Seahawks (4-1) at Browns (2-3) L 2
4. Texans (3-2) at Chiefs (4-1) L 3
5. Redskins (0-5) at Dolphins (0-4) L 4
6. Eagles (3-2) at Vikings (3-2) L 5
7. Saints (4-1) at  Jaguars (2-3) L 6
8. Bengals (0-5) at Ravens (3-2) L 7
9. 49ers (4-0) at Rams (3-2) L 8
10. Falcons (1-4) at Cardinals (1-3-1) L 9
11. Titans (2-3) at Broncos (1-4) L 10
12. Cowboys (3-2) at Jets (0-4) W 2
13. Steelers (1-4) at Chargers (2-3) W 3

14. Lions (2-1-1) at Packers (4-1) L 11

Week 6 Results: 3-11 (21%)
Overall Results: 34-57 (37%)


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 41

The prospects of a Presidential impeachment and the reactions toward it continue to dominate the political discussion. The last time a President was impeached, Jesse Ventura was the newly elected Governor of Minnesota and somebody much talked about as a potential Independent candidate. The former professional wrestler of course did not run that cycle nor in any since, in spite of some occasional chatter. Recently, the scarcely noticed one term Governor has said he is considered running in 2020 as an Independent.  I will be surprised if that happens, but it just might be that Ventura is now old enough to realize it is "now or never" if he ever wants to attempt the experience.

The same could probably have been said four years ago for Donald Trump. He went from an afterthought all the way to the Presidency. Again, the Ventura thing would be an even bigger long-shot to be sure, but he would have the potential take votes away from Trump among those who like the concept of a tough talking "pro wrestling style" politician along with protectionist views on the economy and isolationist views on foreign policy and "endless wars."

Much of this week on the policy front has focused on Trump's decision to withdraw troops from a part of Syria, which will then lead the Kurds, longtime U.S. allies, to potential annihilation from Turkey and it's authoritarian regime.Such a move is consistent with Trump's campaign promises to "bring troops home" and to stay out of conflicts in the Middle East. However, this policy is being roundly denounced by just about every politician outside of Rand Paul. Even Democrats whom for decades have called on the U.S. to be more restrained in military engagements are saying the Administration is making a mistake here. Many Republicans, who typically defend Trump on about everything, and whom have stood by him in the wake of the Ukranian related stories are expressing their disappointment and disbelief. For example, John Shimkus, a conservative Congressman from Downstate Illinois has said that because of this decision by the Commander in Chief, to remove his name from the list of people supporting Trump for reelection. It just so happens though that Shimkus is not seeking reelection and is thus less subject to political backlash. A sinking ship is still sinking though and it is fairly irrelevant how the holes got there to begin with.

Along those lines, Trump has continued to lash out at Utah Senator Mitt Romney over the past week. The words and Tweets may not matter much to Romney, but they are designed as a message to other Republicans who might dare step astray of defending Trump. To me, it seems that this past week has seen an escalation in desperation in regards to the way Trump and his allies are approaching impeachment, now in its third week as a reality. Despite proclamations that such a move would backfire on Democrats, polls are not showing that. In fact, one poll this week from Fox News, shows that 51 percent of Americans believe Trump should be removed from office.

Hearing those results from Fox News, whom Trump believes should literally be working for him, seemed to set him off, and escalated a previous series of warnings to the "fair and balanced" network about their coverage of him. While the primetime hosts on Fox News (with the curious exception of Tucker Carlson who has expressed misgivings over the Ukraine call) is still seen as in the tank for Trump, the newsrooms are said to be divided. Friday saw the abrupt departure of longtime anchor Shephard Smith who has at times been vocally anti-Trump while on the Fox News Channel.

The bunker mentality continues to settle in as Trump die-hards are saying they are done with Fox News after the latest polls showing a rough ride for the incumbent as well as widespread anger of Matt Drudge's "Drudge Report" a once friendly Trump online source of news stories that some believe has now turned against him. I do not know if that is necessarily the case, but the defensiveness on the part of Trump acolytes is hard to ignore these days. It should be remembered that Drudge literally made his name on a previous impeachment saga.

Trump still appears to enjoy rallies in front of adoring audiences. This week, he ventured into urban Minneapolis and drew a big crowd in a state not won by Republicans since 1972. He says he can turn the state red although current polls seem to say otherwise. At appearances like this, Trump genuinely demonstrates significant vocal stamina in speaking for long amounts of time. Except this to continue as well as the new strategy of profane denouncements of impeachment and his political opponents. The chants of "lock him up" , a version of which was once aimed at Hillary Clinton is now aimed at Joe Biden and his son Hunter. In spite of some predictions that Biden would immediately sink in the polls with all this talk about Ukraine, his national polling stances look pretty consistent. Of course, he still has much to worry about before he is close to winning the nomination.

The incumbent also trolled his old rival this week by Tweeting that Hillary Clinton should run against Elizabeth Warren for their party's nomination. I talked last week about how many Republicans have this vision of just such a thing happening Clinton's response was "Don't tempt me." Yeah, she wishes she was in a better position to run.

Twelve Democrats will  meet on CNN this week for the next in the series of debates. They will be faced with a two-front challenge of both attacking Trump and trying to differentiate them from their primary opponents. Impeachment will remain in the headlines, but next weekend, there will be talk about Bernie Sanders' health, Joe Biden's standing, Elizabeth Warren's political ceiling, and the potential for anybody else on stage to somehow break through.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Louisiana Governor Election

Louisiana Governor


2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Status: Democrat Incumbent
Prediction: Likely Democrat


Tomorrow, voters in Louisiana will head to the polls for the first time this year to go about the process of electing a Governor and other state offices. This blog post is coming today because there is a chance, although perhaps somewhat less than likely, that the Gubernatorial election will be decided tomorrow, in the "Jungle Primary", without the need for a runoff election between the top two finishers. If that were to happen, that contest will not be until another Saturday, next month on the 16th of November. My prediction for the eventual outcome will remain the same for now.

Historically, no state has had weaker political parties as an institution than Louisiana. While the politics of the state are colorful and the lean of the voters is conservative, the past 40 years has seen a lot in the way of party switching and sometimes surprise results. Still though, Democrats used to dominate, as was the case everywhere else in the South, and in recent years, the state has moved solidly towards the GOP. A conservative Democrat was the surprise winner though four years ago over a weakened Republican opponent, and that incumbent is out to prove that his first victory was no fluke. Governor John Bel Edwards will easily finish in first place tomorrow but will he win a majority and avoid a runoff or will he have to face a Republican opponent? He is certainly hoping to end this early, but will be the favorite if a runoff is held.

In 2015, the Gubernatorial election went to a runoff, but then U.S. Senator David Vitter, who had long been considered the favorite, had to deal with a very divided party post-jungle, as well as people remembering a past personal scandal of his. The outgoing GOP Governor was also very unpopular and a drag on the party. Edwards ran on a culturally conservative platform in regards to issues like abortion and guns and won enough cross-over votes to become Governor.

Many Republicans thought this was a unique circumstance and that Edwards could be easy picking in 2019. Still though, the biggest names in the state party, including the oft-quoted U.S. Senator John Kennedy, declined to make this race. Most members of the Louisiana Republican Congressional delegation also took a pass, despite the fact that they did not risk losing their current job in an odd-year election. Some were relieved when a Republican Congressman did enter in the person of Ralph Abraham, also a physician.

It looked like the Bayou State would see a very competitive race between Edwards and Abraham, with nobody else really becoming a factor, but a second Republican has made a great deal of noise in the field and if recent polling is to be believed, has now surpassed Abraham as the top Republican. Eddie Rispone is a first time candidate and wealthy businessman who is playing up his outsider ties in a way that appeals to many who like what they have seen in Donald Trump as President. While Abraham has not been in Congress long, he might be tainted by any sort of association with Washington D.C., still he has the support of much of the state's Republican establishment.

While Rispone might seem to have the most in common with Trump in terms of biography, the truth is that all three major candidates are trying to appeal to Trump voters in a state where the very controversial incumbent President is believed to be very popular still. Just tonight, Trump held a rally in Louisiana, where I am certain that both GOP Gubernatorial candidates attended. Trump recently Tweeted a joint endorsement of both and said how important it was to get the race to a runoff. His appearance will be an attempt to gin up conservative turnout in order to hold Edwards under 50 percent. If the current President were to have endorsed one of the Republicans, it would be a huge advantage for them. He has stayed neutral however, although it appears that Donald Trump Jr. endorsed Abraham some time ago. The Congressman, perhaps feeling a bit of desperation in falling behind Rispone, has moved even further to try to appeal to Trump die-hards. He recently introduced a resolution in Congress, certain to go nowhere, to expel House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from the body.

In the meantime, John Bel Edwards has remained a socially conservative Democrat, which is likely the only type of Democrat capable of winning statewide. He recently signed a bill to restrict abortion similar to what Republican Governors in other states have done to great consternation among abortion supporters. While Trump is now going out of his way to target Edwards, the reelection seeking Governor has been very cautious in criticizing the Republican President. The Governor's job approval ratings are definitely well above that of Bobby Jindal, the outgoing Republican Governor who four years ago was seeking the GOP Presidential nomination.

There are other candidates on the Jungle Primary ballot tomorrow. One of them is frequent candidate Gary Landrieu, whom despite his well known political name and distant relation to the famous Louisiana Democrat family, is also running as a Trumpist style populist. Another Republican is also on the ballot without any semblance of major support. Finally, there is Democrat Oscar Omar Dantlzer, an African-American bus driver, who is not mounting much of a campaign but does claim to be the only anti-Trump candidate in the field and the only pro-choice one as well. Could enough liberal Democrats who are upset at Edwards cast a protest vote, costing the incumbent a chance to avoid a runoff, and into a potentially tough race against a Republican?

Clearly, if John Bel Edwards were a Republican with the same record and same position, many Democrats, even in Louisiana would want no part in voting for him. Most though are able to think strategically though in realizing he is definitely the party's only hope not just of victory but of relevance in Louisiana. With Republicans divided among two candidates and indeed with suburban affluent Republicans who may be down on Trump and willing to accept a conservative leaning Democrat, Edwards is a clear favorite at this point for four more years.

The polls show the incumbent flirting with getting 50 percent tomorrow, with the latest polls moving even more in that direction. If I had to predict, I will say that Edwards will fall a bit short. I also think it is more likely than not that Rispone will eliminate Abraham tomorrow. Many will think a runoff will tighten quickly and give the Republicans a chance to win by mid-November, but I still think Edwards will do what the polls are currently showing, and win a runoff by a solid but not overwhelming margin.

Maybe by the time the voters have the final say, I will get to have sampled one of those chicken sandwiches from "Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen. "

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

NFL Week 6 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS

Overall Results: 31-46 (40%)

1. Giants (2-3) at Patriots (5-0)

2. Panthers (3-2) vs. Buccaneers (2-3) in London, England
3. Seahawks (4-1) at Browns (2-3)
4. Texans (3-2) at Chiefs (4-1)
5. Redskins (0-5) at Dolphins (0-4)
6. Eagles (3-2) at Vikings (3-2)
7. Saints (4-1) at  Jaguars (2-3)
8. Bengals (0-5) at Ravens (3-2)
9. 49ers (4-0) at Rams (3-2)
10. Falcons (1-4) at Cardinals (1-3-1)
11. Titans (2-3) at Broncos (1-4)
12. Cowboys (3-2) at Jets (0-4)
13. Steelers (1-4) at Chargers (2-3)

14. Lions (2-1-1) at Packers (4-1)

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

NFL Week 5 Results

A lousy week for me in the NFL

NOT PREDICTIONS

1. Rams (3-1) at Seahawks (3-1) W 1


2. Jaguars (2-2) at Panthers (2-2) L 1
3. Patriots (4-0) at Redskins (0-4) W 2
4. Bills (3-1) at Titans (2-2) W 3
5. Ravens (2-2) at Steelers (1-3) L 2
6. Cardinals (0-3-1) at Bengals (0-4) L 3
7. Falcons (1-3) at Texans (2-2) W 4
8. Buccaneers (2-2) at Saints (3-1) L 4
9. Vikings (2-2) at Giants (2-2) L 5
10. Bears (3-1) vs. Raiders (2-2) in London, England L 6
11. Jets (0-3) at Eagles (2-2) L 7
12. Broncos (0-4) at Chargers (2-2) W 5
13. Packers (3-1) at Cowboys (3-1) L 8
14. Colts (2-2) at Chiefs (4-0) L 9 L 9



15. Browns (2-2) at 49ers (3-0) L 10

Week 5 Results: 5-10 (33%)
Overall Results: 31-46 (40%)

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 40

Impeachment in the air, cries of treason, heart attacks, speculation of epic comebacks, by departed characters, allegations of cougarism; this week in Presidential politics was like a soap opera.

For Democrats, we know that Elizabeth Warren likely did not actually have an affair with a young Marine bodybuilder as alleged by alt-right grifters with a history of pushing hoaxes, although it might help her image a bit if people thought it was true. We do know now that Bernie Sanders, the oldest of all Presidential contenders, suffered a heart attack this week in Nevada. Thankfully, the episode was relatively mild and the Senator has now been released from a hospital and is recuperating at home in Vermont. The campaign seemed to go to some lengths though to avoid confirming the diagnosis until it was absolutely necessary.

For now, Sanders is saying he will be among those taking part in the next debate this month, and indeed some headlines this week showed that he was the top fundraiser among all Democrat candidates. Already lagging in some polls though, this medical scare cannot be considered a good thing and many will speculate that Sanders might exit the race. If that happens, the burgeoning Warren campaign (which also raised more money than perceived front-runner Joe Biden) should benefit. This incident with Sanders, which was to some extent captured on camera, when he took the rare step of asking for a chair during a campaign event, is also bound to raise questions surrounding the health of all the septuagenarians running in both parties, including the incumbent and the former Vice President.

Mostly though, this week was about the back and forth in Washington D.C. involving the impeachment inquiry launched by House Democrats. Donald Trump and his allies are of course firing back with both barrels accusing opponents of "treason" and taking part in a "coup." He is not acting like someone who is welcoming all this for political reasons. His rhetoric is only likely to get more toxic and the divisions between those who love and hate Trump will only grow more heated.

Indeed his behavior has become more brazen this past week. Some will argue that he has committed several impeachable offenses while speaking on live television. If it were any other President at any other time, that would have been considered a given. Instead, Trump seems to feel that if he doubles down on his position, then people will think his behavior is normal. He continues to insist he was right to ask Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter and now has publicly asked communist China to investigate them as well. (This week he sent out a laudatory Tweet congratulating China on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Communists coming to power. Does he have any idea what exactly that has meant for China and the world?)

At this point regardless of all the talk about whom exactly the whistleblower was and what they were motivated by and whom they might have conspired with and who knew what when, etc, etc, it seems pretty obvious that Trump actually did what people are upset about. He asked foreign governments to produce political dirt on the person considered his most likely 2020 political opponent.

For some Trump backers, such an action is totally fine and in fact something to like about him. I find that mind boggling. There is no way that any of them would have ever said that about any previous political figure. To some others in the Republican Party, there is a concession that what Trump did was improper but that it does not rise to the level of an impeachable act and that we should be cautious in how it is treated. Few in the GOP have been willing to go as far as Utah Senator Mitt Romney in saying that it was "wrong and appalling." For that, Trump has been attacking Romney on Twitter by calling him a "pompous ass" and whether sarscatically or not, calling for his impeachment.

This will continue to play out. Democrats are becoming more emboldened and they also seem to have some political knives out for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who initially lied about being on the Trump call with Ukraine. Vice President Mike Pence, to his discredit, but in no surprise, is defending Trump on this publicly, and some on the left seem to think he can be brought into this whole mess too. Obviously, if Trump leaves office, Pence becomes President. Some though have visions of a President Pelosi and are talking about this possibility that Pence might get impeached too.

Look, if there is any evidence that Pence did something illegal, than that is what should happen. However, there does not appear to be any actual evidence of that. Those who want Trump gone or at the minimum held Constitutionally responsible, should keep their eye on the target and not overreach. It would definitely run the risk of creating a backlash if Democrats without legitimate cause, tried to impeach two for the price of one in order to bring about an immediate change in the party that holds the White House.

Interestingly enough, Trump might welcome trying to drag Pence into all of this, just to save himself or muddy the waters. The Vice President should watch his back and remember that he is the only person in the Executive Department that cannot actually get fired. He took an oath to the Constitution not to Donald Trump. Today, there seems to be chatter that Trump and his elk might be looking to use rumored to be departing Energy Secretary Rick Perry as the fall guy on the Ukraine call. Could Perry have masterminded this all? Has anyone seem him debate?

Needless to say, this is all up in the air as to what will happen to the political fortunes of Donald Trump and yes, to Joe Biden as well. Democrats seem pretty convinced that the GOP will not be abandoning Trump in any way, shape, or form, but Trump supporters are now suggesting that former presidential candidates like Mitt Romney or John Kasich are looking to primary him and that means that Trump must be backed even stronger.

These same voices on the right are also convinced that Trump, by putting the focus on Biden, has ended any hope he has of becoming his party's nominee. I think that is way too premature to say, but I agree to the extent that the fundamentals of the nomination contest could work out for Elizabeth Warren. However, they seem convinced that the party elders are furiously looking for someone to replace Biden because they fear Warren cannot win. (For months many said that Michelle Obama would ultimately be nominated when the dust settled and the whole primary was for show.) Now, these predictors are saying that Hillary Clinton is preparing to run again or going back even further, John Kerry!

Honestly, both former Secretaries of State and failed Presidential nominees would probably jump at the nomination in a heartbeat if they could be given it. I do not see that happening though. Nonetheless, Colin Powell should maybe keep his phone nearby.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

NFL Week 5 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS

Overall Results: 26-36 (42%)

1. Rams (3-1) at Seahawks (3-1)


2. Jaguars (2-2) at Panthers (2-2)
3. Patriots (4-0) at Redskins (0-4)
4. Bills (3-1) at Titans (2-2)
5. Ravens (2-2) at Steelers (1-3)
6. Cardinals (0-3-1) at Bengals (0-4)
7. Falcons (1-3) at Texans (2-2)
8. Buccaneers (2-2) at Saints (3-1)
9. Vikings (2-2) at Giants (2-2)
10. Bears (3-1) vs. Raiders (2-2) in London, England
11. Jets (0-3) at Eagles (2-2)
12. Broncos (0-4) at Chargers (2-2)
13. Packers (3-1) at Cowboys (3-1)
14. Colts (2-2) at Chiefs (4-0)

15. Browns (2-2) at 49ers (3-0)

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

NFL Week 4 Results

NOT PREDICTIONS

1. Eagles (1-2) at Packers (3-0) W 1

2. Titans (1-2) at Falcons (1-2) W 2
3. Redskins (0-3) at Giants (1-2) L 1
4. Chargers (1-2) at Dolphins (0-3) L 2
5. Raiders (1-2) at Colts (2-1) L 3
6. Panthers (1-2) at Texans (2-1) L 4
7. Chiefs (3-0) at Lions (2-0-1) W 3
8. Browns (1-2) at Ravens (2-1) W 4
9. Patriots (3-0) at Bills (3-0) L 5
10. Buccaneers (1-2) at Rams (3-0) W 5
11. Seahawks (2-1) at Cardinals (0-2-1) L 6
12. Vikings (2-1) at Bears (2-1) W 6
13. Jaguars (1-2) at Broncos (0-3) L 7
14. Cowboys (3-0) at Saints (2-1) W 7

15. Bengals (0-3) at Steelers (0-3) L 8

Week 4 Results: 7-8 (47%)
Overall Results: 26-36 (42%)


Saturday, September 28, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 39

It has been a tumultuous week in politics adding a new wrinkle along the Road to the White House, that is likely to occupy headlines for several more months.

It now appears, at long last, that Donald J. Trump will become the third President of the United States to ever be impeached. However, he will be the first one to be so in the midst of a reelection campaign. At this point in time, the expectation is that there are not enough votes in the Senate to remove Trump from office or any other sort of votes to remove Trump from atop the Republican ticket. What will be the impact on a general election though? Some Republicans gleefully claim that impeachment will hurt the Democrats and help Trump. The White House is said to be wanting very much to avoid this process. Even many Democrats are spooked that an impeachment process, where a conviction looks far from likely, will help Trump.

Personally, I think this is nothing but bad news for Trump. Democrats may have other problems both as a party and in terms of weaknesses for whomever emerges as their nominee, but I cannot imagine that they cannot use the facts of this case to their advantage, especially if Trump "gets away with it." If the American people determine that Trump acted properly in regards to his desire to influence Ukraine to find political dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter, and that the critics of Trump overreached, then we have fundamental problems as a civilization that go far beyond the Oval Office.

I summarized this controversy in my entry last week. There are still unanswered questions that fairness demands get addressed. However, based on what we do know, including from the somewhat overconfident way the White House did agree to release a summary of a phone call (that read as a transcript) as well as well as the "whistleblower" complaint, it is all pretty bad news for Trump and evidence of illegal activities that certainly rise to the level of impeachment for all who actually care about the Constitution.

Was there a direct quid pro quo to withhold money from Ukraine unless the government there went after the Bidens? Maybe not directly, based on what was released, but certainly an implied one. We do not know what exactly happened in discussions previous to this much talked about phone call between Trump and Ukraine's newly elected President. We do know that after the phone call, an effort was made to try to "lock down" what had happened. Now, as this is public, Trump is going after the "whistleblower" as being a spy and making allusions to treason. Of course others in the public sphere, including GOP Presidential challenger Bill Weld are using the T word as well and saying that Trump committed an act for which the prescribed remedy is the death penalty.

That will not happen and Trump is not likely to go to prison, (at least for this offense) but the dam broke in the U.S. House in favor of impeachment and Speaker Nancy Pelosi was no longer able to keep this matter on the backburner. A former inquest is under way and fairly soon there will likely be Articles of Impeachment introduced. At this point, there are enough House Democrat votes (plus Independent Justin Amash of Michigan) to make certain that Trump is impeached. Then, a trial would have to occur within the Republican controlled upper chamber.

Sixty seven votes are needed to convict. Jurors are supposed to be impartial but of course they are also politicians. Nearly every Democrat Senator would vote to impeach, but perhaps not exactly all due to political realities in their states. Right now, many Republican Senators are already declaring the accusation and evidence to be a "nothingburger" and with the exception of Utah's Mitt Romney and perhaps a couple others, all Republican Senators would be expected to vote Not Guilty. This is despite the generally agreed upon comment that if it were a secret ballot to remove Trump, most Republican Senators would vote in the affirmative. It will of course not be a secret ballot though, nor should it be. Of course, this will all depend on public opinion. If by the time of the trial, polling indicates that most Americans have turned strongly against Trump and want him out of office, the votes to remove him in the Senate will be there, perhaps with a sigh of relief from the Republican politicians who want an excuse and the cover to toss Trump overboard.

At this point, all Democrat and Republican challengers of Trump are for impeachment (including now Tulsi Gabbard of Hawai'i who has sometimes had her loyalties questioned.) The early polls show division on the matter but definitely energy moving towards the pro-impeachment side. Needless to say, more Democrat voters support impeachment than  Republican voters, but some of these polls are showing increase in supporting impeachment occurring at the same level for both.

Yes, this will greatly divide America. There will be arguments within families this Holiday season over impeachment. Nonetheless, I think Democrats have been given a political goldmine by Trump's hubris and if they cannot effectively make this case to the American people, then they really have huge, huge problems.

To me, this is simple. The law is the law and nobody is above it. If Trump had evidence that Joe Biden or his son had done anything illegal, then he should have gone to the FBI, which of course is part of his own Executive Branch. He was not to try to collude with Ukraine secretly to help him win reelection and to use the auspices of his office to get Ukraine to cooperate and to have them deal primarily with his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who has no formal role in the American government.

We spent nearly two years trying to determine if Trump, as a private citizen, colluded with Russia to try to win in 2016. The official finding was that he had not, perhaps just as a technicality, and perhaps not for lack of effort. He should have learned his lesson as the Mueller Report was far more damaging than initially admitted. Still though, Trump continued to act like a mafioso and tried to get Ukraine (which of course is threatened by Russia) to play ball in order to help him win in 2020. Congress has no choice but to impeach, regardless of the eventual outcome. If Trump were able to act this way without any potential consequence, who knows what he might do next, or what a future President might attempt?

Can these developments help the Biden campaign? Joe Biden is of course very much a part of this story and he has in the past received much bipartisan sympathy for the challenges his family has faced. In theory, he could use this to his advantage as a "victim" and get Democrat votes that way to increase his standing (though becoming more shaky) as the front-runner. However, the more this story is in the news, it might also pose political risks for Biden. While by all indications the late Beau Biden was a patriot and dedicated public servant, there have been for years talk about the other Biden children, Hunter and Ashley, and how lucky they have been to have a famous and influential father in order to keep them out of trouble. Whatever Hunter Biden was up to in Ukraine, it does not look good and it is hard for Joe Biden to thus spin this as effectively to his advantage. Some are joking that this whole story is a well thought out "plan" from Elizabeth Warren to fatally damage two Presidential rivals.

The campaign will continue to play out and so will the impeachment saga. Twists and turns can be expected in both. Before the American people have their final say, 435 House members and then eventually 100 U.S. Senators will have theirs. The burden of history is upon them and generations yet to be born will remember how they act.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

NFL Week 4 Games

NOT PREDICTIONS

Overall Results: 19-28 (40%)

1. Eagles (1-2) at Packers (3-0)

2. Titans (1-2) at Falcons (1-2)
3. Redskins (0-3) at Giants (1-2)
4. Chargers (1-2) at Dolphins (0-3)
5. Raiders (1-2) at Colts (2-1)
6. Panthers (1-2) at Texans (2-1)
7. Chiefs (3-0) at Lions (2-0-1)
8. Browns (1-2) at Ravens (2-1)
9. Patriots (3-0) at Bills (3-0)
10. Buccaneers (1-2) at Rams (3-0)
11. Seahawks (2-1) at Cardinals (0-2-1)
12. Vikings (2-1) at Bears (2-1)
13. Jaguars (1-2) at Broncos (0-3)
14. Cowboys (3-0) at Saints (2-1)

15. Bengals (0-3) at Steelers (0-3)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

NFL Week 3 Results

NOT PREDICTIONS

1. Titans (1-1) at Jaguars (0-2) L 1

2. Bengals (0-2) at Bills (2-0) W 1
3. Lions (1-0-1) at Eagles (1-1) L 2
4. Jets (0-2) at Patriots (2-0) L 3
5. Raiders (1-1) at Vikings (1-1) L 4
6. Ravens (2-0) at Chiefs (2-0) W 2
7. Falcons (1-1) at Colts (1-1) W 3
8.  Broncos (0-2) at Packers (2-0) L 5
9.  Dolphins (0-2) at Cowboys (2-0) L 6
10. Giants (0-2) at Buccaneers (1-1) W 4
11. Panthers (0-2) at Cardinals (0-1-1) W 5
12. Steelers (0-2) at 49ers (2-0) L 7
13. Saints (1-1) at Seahawks (2-0) W 6
14. Texans (1-1) at Chargers (1-1) W 7
15. Rams (2-0) at Browns (1-1) L 8

16. Bears (1-1) at Redskins (0-2) W 8

Week 3 Results: 8-8 (50%)
Overall Results: 19-28 (40%)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Race for the White House 2020 # 38

To get the housekeeping of this blog out of the way, nearly two weeks ago in North Carolina, the incorrect (of the two total races) prediction I had occurred when Republican Dan Bishop won a special election seat for a district that had been without a Representative since the end of 2018.

I had said this would be a Tossup race that would narrowly go Democrat, but the Republican won by three points, consistent with recent polling. Donald Trump took all the credit for the win, falsely claiming the Republican was down big until he got involved. While it was true that Trump's campaign rally right before the election might have turned out some voters, it is also true that this district would not have even been competitive if not for Trump's polarization. In advance of the 2020 national elections, we can see that Republicans might still have their 2018 edge in red areas, but in suburban areas, including in this North Carolina district, the party is lagging behind traditional showings at an alarming rate. There are no moral victories in politics thought. Democrats wanted to and likely expected to flip this district, amid all the turmoil it had been through, including the last Republican nominee's campaign being considered complicit in a vote suppression scandal and they did not win it.

There might also be some bad news for Trump die-hards from Israel in where the latest round of elections have long-time Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been running a staunch Trump ally, fell short in getting enough votes in the Knesset to form a government. While Israel is not moving to the left anytime soon on defense issues (thankfully), this could lead to profound change in government. It remains to be seen who will be the next Prime Minister or if there will need to be yet another election. There might also be in the future an occasion to look for examples of similarity as they relate to a tough-talking incumbent under an ethical cloud, and if they were successful or not in bringing about a sufficient amount of fear about the opposition.

The action on the U.S. Presidential front continues. I neglected to mention last week that Mark Sanford became the fourth major GOP Presidential candidate. All four of the candidate are men who have been divorced, although Trump the only one who has been twice. He took issue with Sanford's past admitted and highly public infidelity, as if he has room to talk.

The Democrat field continues to shrink gradually as New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio ended his longshot campaign yesterday. Trump tweeted that New York City was devastated he was returning to be Mayor full-time. There could be some truth there. Today, there is news that the campaign of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is threatening to leave the race unless his supporters can donate a large amount of money quickly. That is a bad sign. Sooner or later, the Garden State Senator will have to jump into a 2020 reelection campaign.

That leaves us with Corn-Pop and Ukraine. These are two very weird things to have to talk about as they relate to the two major party frontrunners but they cannot be ignored. One of course is far more recent and far more serious than the other in terms of actual governance, (and potential blowback for the other party) and I am not trying to blur that distinction. Still, both narratives are pretty remarkable and speaks to the uniqueness of this campaign and its time in history. I cannot think of a political candidate or office holder, in either party, who might have previously been able to get away with either of these things. It's right up there with the revelation that the very liberal and racially woke Prime Minister of Canada had a penchant for wearing blackface, most recently (we think) in 2001 when he was 29 year old teacher. Justin Trudea is begging for forgiveness, and many on the left north of the border and here will extent it to him, when they certainly would not for a conservative politician of his age. What will happen to his party though when his country votes next month? There is also going to be another Great Britain general election. The new Prime Minister is a pro-Brexit friend of Donald Trump who even sort of looks like him. The main opposition leader is to the left of Bernie Sanders and widely viewed as anti-Semitic.

Back once again to America though, the former Vice President told a story a couple of years ago that just went viral this week. One of the craziest aspects is that Biden might have actually been at least somewhat telling the truth. The tale sounds sort of unbelievable though and it is hard to imagine why if true, Biden would want to share it.

Apparently, back in 1962 Wilmington, young Joe was the only white lifeguard at a public pool. There was a "rough" gang leader named Corn Pop "who ran with some bad boys." He had product in his hair or something like that so Biden demanded he not dive into the pool without a bathing cap on (Was diving a big black hoodlum activity back in the early 60's) and Corn Pop got pretty upset. Biden mockingly referred to him as "Esther Williams" and kicked him and his crew out of the pool.

As the story goes, word came down to Biden that Corn Pop and his associates (Snap and Crackle?) wanted to do damage to Biden with rusty straight razors. Biden was told not to call the cops because one day he might be booed for that on a left-wing debate stage... no wait, I made that last part up. Anyways, Biden showed up for this showdown in the parking lot with a "six foot chain."

He says he told Corn Pop that he did not regret kicking him out of the pool and he would do it again, but it was wrong for him to call him Esther (i.e. misgendering) and he was sorry for that. However, if Corn Pop was going to shiv him, Biden planned to wrap the six foot chain around his head. Corn Pop apparently was so touched by being apologized for the Esther Williams slur, he backed down, and apparently the two men would become friends or something after that and invented the "Beat It" dance.

There is so much to unwrap here, but thankfully not a chain. Yes, Biden would have been right to enforce the rules, and yes, fighting back against vicious hoodlums might be a necessity, but why in the world is he admitting all this decades later? He is proudly recalling that as the sole white authority figure he brazenly told a young black man in the early '60s to mind his authority or that he would put a chain around him. Holy Symbolism Batman! There seems to have been an actual Corn Pop and some from Delaware say Biden has told this story for years, but Corn Pop is dead now and cannot give his version. In prison, is Bill Cosby called "Pudding Pop?"

What if any other white politician from that era had told that story? One thing remains easier to understand now and that is how Joe Biden in 2012 shamefully told a black audience that Mitt Romney would "put y'all back in chains." He must have been thinking either about his own past or a story he invented or embellished.

The next story is likely far more significant to this campaign and I want to stress that I do not know all the details as to what might have actually happened, but I sure want to know, and I think we as the American people have the right to know. The Administration should not cover this up, but many believe they are doing just that.

If the most sinister version of this narrative is true, Donald Trump committed a crime in the White House not long ago and it is also something that is a clear-cut and easy to understand impeachable offense. It also might be the case that Joe Biden, a private citizen today, might also have some things to answer. Clearly though, Trump is afraid politically of Biden, who has led him thus far in every public and apparently private poll of a potential 2020 matchup.

To be as brief as I can, Ukraine is supposed to be America's ally, especially as it relates to their being threatened by Putin's Russia. There is a lot of money the U.S. is supposed to provide Ukraine in aid but the Trump Administration has been holding it back for some reason. Reportedly, a "whistle blower" claims that he or she heard Trump make a promise to the President of the Ukraine on a recent telephone call and that it was so troubling that he had to report it to authorities. The issue of who in America is listening in to the President's phone calls and why seems to be a whole other story but let's remember that Trump was literally just investigated for years upon allegations he had colluded with a foreign government to help him get elected.

The claim is that Trump said he would give Ukraine their money if they did him the solid of investigating Joe Biden. There has long been talk that Hunter Biden, the surviving son of the former Vice President, who has dealt with a myriad of personal issues, was involved in some shady business dealings in Ukraine and trading on his family name and the job his father held at the time. There is a clip on YouTube where a blustery Biden is claiming that as Vice President, he threatened to hold U.S. money back from Ukraine unless they fired a prosecutor. Now, the defenders of Trump are claiming the prosecutor that Biden succeeded in getting fired was looking into Hunter. There may legitimately be some serious questions left unanswered there, but it also appears Biden was simply taking the official position of the Obama Administration and many other western countries because there were apparently problems with the prosecutor.

Rudy Giuliani, the one time "America's Mayor" who is now Trump's attorney has been involved in this in a while and had plans at one point to go to Ukraine to investigate himself. After this story broke, he had an absolutely insane interview on CNN where he quickly contradicted himself in saying that yes indeed, he did ask Ukraine to get involved in looking into Biden and that he had "proof" that he would not share publicly that Biden had done something corrupt. He also said Trump would have been perfectly in his right to ask Ukraine to look into Biden. The occupant of the Oval Office first Tweeted that he would never do something improper in a discussion with a foreign leader he knew others would be listening to. By the next day though he said it did not matter if he discussed the Bidens with Ukraine and that it was something that needed to be exposed.

So, if nothing else, it sounds like this actually happened. I am not an attorney but I cannot understand why that would not be illegal. He was asking a foreign government to take action designed specifically to benefit himself politically in exchange for official U.S. government action. If there was a quid pro quo, that's impeachable as hell. Let us at least find out what exactly was said or promised. Certainly though, if Obama or any other President had done something like this, the opposition party would have literally had their heads explode.

Did Trump unwittingly give the Democrats the potential opening of a lifetime? (Did Trump secretly do it on purpose? Would Democrats even want to take their chances against Mike Pence at this point?) and what will House Democrats do about it? Most Republicans will be expected to defend Trump, at least as long as Democrats act afraid of their constitutional duties. Besides the fact that all of this looks extremely unethical for Trump (and potentially Biden too), the problem of Presidential abuse of power cannot be ignored.

I do not exactly know who heard what Trump said on the phone to Ukraine or how or why they heard it, but if they did hear what some are surmising they heard, it cannot stand without consequences.